You Should Move to New York if You Want to be a US Centenarian (aka 100+ years old)

Happy Female Centenarian

Image from P.J.P on Flickr

I want to live to be 100. I don’t eat processed foods. I take cod liver oil daily. I exercise.

But one factor that’s working against me reaching triple digits is that I reside in Austin, Texas rather than a blue zone. A blue zone is a “demographic and/or geographic area of the world where people live measurably longer lives.” Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and supposedly Loma Linda, California are blue zones. Let’s take a look at US Census data to identify blue zones.

What’s a centenarian?

A person who is 100 years of age or older.

How many centenarians are there in the US?

According to US Census 2010 data, there are 53,364 US centenarians. 83% of US centenarians are female–which makes me quite happy about my 2 X chromosomes.

Table 1. Number of US Centenarians

Both sexes Male Female
Total population (all ages) 308,745,538 151,781,326 156,964,212
100 to 104 years 49,141 8,295 40,846
105 to 109 years 3,893 736 3,157
110 years and over 330 131 199
Total Centenarians 53,364 9,162 44,202
U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Summary File 1, Table PCT12. Retrieved January 24, 2013 from http://factfinder2.census.gov

 

How Many Centenarians live in Your State?

See Table 2 below. Of course, California, New York, Florida, Texas & Pennsylvania have the largest total numbers of centenarians. But these states also have the largest populations. We’d expect higher total numbers of centenarians in these states. But what we want know is are there states with MORE centenarians than we’d expect to be find in that state — like a blue zone state. Basically, I’m going to guess (aka hypothesize) that centenarians are not evenly distributed throughout the US. And if I’m right, then we want to identify which states have more than their expected number of folks living over 100 years of age. A quick & dirty way to calculate the expected number of centenarians is to calculate the percent of population living in a state & multiply that percent by the total number of US centenarians. Let’s look at California as an example.

  • (Pop of CA / Pop of US) * Centenarians in US = Expected Centenarians in CA
  • (37,253,956 / 312,471,327) * 54,325 = 6,477

Then we compare the expected number with the actual number of centenarians in CA.

  • 6,477 Expected CA Centenarians vs 5,921 Actual CA Centenarians

The next step we could do is to calculate if the difference between the expected centenarians & actual centenarians is significant. But this calculation would be moving beyond quick & dirty.

Table 2. Number of Centenarians by State: Sorted by the Difference between the Actual & Expected

State Total Population Actual Number of Centenarians Expected Number of Centenarians Difference between Actual & Expected
New York 19,378,102 4,605 3,369 1,236
Florida 18,801,310 4,090 3,269 821
Massachusetts 6,547,629 1,520 1,138 382
Iowa 3,046,355 846 530 316
Puerto Rico 3,725,789 961 648 313
Connecticut 3,574,097 930 621 309
Pennsylvania 12,702,379 2,510 2,208 302
Minnesota 5,303,925 1,211 922 289
New Jersey 8,791,894 1,769 1,529 240
Wisconsin 5,686,986 1,179 989 190
Illinois 12,830,632 2,419 2,231 188
Nebraska 1,826,341 501 318 183
Kansas 2,853,118 626 496 130
Missouri 5,988,927 1,166 1,041 125
North Dakota 672,591 221 117 104
South Dakota 814,180 240 142 98
Arkansas 2,915,918 580 507 73
Hawaii 1,360,301 306 236 70
Maine 1,328,361 298 231 67
Rhode Island 1,052,567 247 183 64
District of Columbia 601,723 156 105 51
Mississippi 2,967,297 542 516 26
Vermont 625,741 133 109 24
Oregon 3,831,074 677 666 11
Michigan 9,883,640 1,729 1,718 11
New Hampshire 1,316,470 232 229 3
Montana 989,415 175 172 3
Delaware 897,934 146 156 -10
Wyoming 563,626 72 98 -26
Indiana 6,483,802 1,083 1,127 -44
West Virginia 1,852,994 273 322 -49
Idaho 1,567,582 220 273 -53
Alabama 4,779,736 759 831 -72
New Mexico 2,059,179 284 358 -74
Alaska 710,231 40 123 -83
Maryland 5,773,552 911 1,004 -93
Oklahoma 3,751,351 546 652 -106
Washington 6,724,540 1,055 1,169 -114
Ohio 11,536,504 1,891 2,006 -115
South Carolina 4,625,364 659 804 -145
Kentucky 4,339,367 596 754 -158
Tennessee 6,346,105 940 1,103 -163
Louisiana 4,533,372 594 788 -194
Virginia 8,001,024 1,190 1,391 -201
North Carolina 9,535,483 1,404 1,658 -254
Nevada 2,700,551 203 470 -267
Arizona 6,392,017 832 1,111 -279
Colorado 5,029,196 593 874 -281
Utah 2,763,885 186 481 -295
Georgia 9,687,653 1,141 1,684 -543
California 37,253,956 5,921 6,477 -556
Texas 25,145,561 2,917 4,372 -1,455
Total 312,471,327 54,325 54,325 0
U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. QT-P2 Single Years of Age and Sex: 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2013 from http://factfinder2.census.gov

Per the data above, New York & Florida both have MORE centenarians than we’d expect to be in these 2 states, whereas California and my beloved Texas have FEWER centenarians than we’d expect to be in these 2 states. To better my odds of living to over 100, I should move from Texas to New York or Florida. New York & Florida are big states, so where in these states should I move to? I actually looked at data for all counties in the US, and the top 10 counties with the largest difference between the actual number of centenarians and the expected number of centenarians were all in either New York or Florida. Hartford, Connecticut finally breaks into the list at number 12.

Table 3. 15 US Counties with the Largest Positive Difference between the Actual & Expected Number of Centenarians

Counties Total Population Actual Number of Centenarians Expected Number of Centenarians Difference between Actual & Expected
New York, NY 1,585,873 560 276 284
Bay, FL 168,852 219 29 190
Palm Beach, FL 1,320,134 413 230 183
Westchester, NY 949,113 326 165 161
Pinellas, FL 916,542 318 159 159
Broward, FL 1,748,066 448 304 144
Kings, NY 2,504,700 569 435 134
Queens, NY 2,230,722 518 388 130
Bronx, NY 1,385,108 364 241 123
Sarasota, FL 379,448 185 66 119
Miami-Dade, FL 2,496,435 548 434 114
Hartford, CT 894,014 265 155 110
San Francisco, CA 805,235 248 140 108
Cook, IL 5,194,675 1,011 903 108
Nassau, NY 1,339,532 330 233 97
Montgomery, PA 799,874 221 139 82
Fairfield, CT 916,829 239 159 80
San Juan Municipio, PR 395,326 146 69 77
Norfolk, MA 670,850 193 117 76
Bergen, NJ 905,116 232 157 75
U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. QT-P2 Single Years of Age and Sex: 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2013 from http://factfinder2.census.gov

Conversely, the table below contains the 15 counties with fewer centenarians than we’d expect to live in these counties. I’ve lived either in or just next door to Harris County, Bexar County & Travis County for most of my life — all 3 of which are in the table below.

Table 4. 15 US Counties with the Largest Negative Difference between the Actual & Expected Number of Centenarians

Geography Total Population Actual Number of Centenarians Expected Number of Centenarians Difference between Actual & Expected
Harris, TX 4,092,459 358 711 -353
Clark, NV 1,951,269 128 339 -211
Maricopa, AZ 3,817,117 492 664 -172
San Bernardino, CA 2,035,210 191 354 -163
Dallas, TX 2,368,139 254 412 -158
Tarrant, TX 1,809,034 161 315 -154
Riverside, CA 2,189,641 233 381 -148
Salt Lake, UT 1,029,655 68 179 -111
San Diego, CA 3,095,313 435 538 -103
Travis, TX 1,024,266 77 178 -101
Gwinnett, GA 805,321 40 140 -100
Collin, TX 782,341 40 136 -96
Bexar, TX 1,714,773 204 298 -94
Kern, CA 839,631 61 146 -85
Fairfax, VA 1,081,726 111 188 -77
U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. QT-P2 Single Years of Age and Sex: 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2013 from http://factfinder2.census.gov

 

Male Centenarian

Image from Adam Jones, Ph.D. on Flickr

But I won’t be packing my bags for New York County, New York right now. As always, correlation doesn’t indicate causality. Or in this case, geographic location might not in & of itself increase my chances of living to be over 100. Maybe people who wear green hats are more likely to live in New York County, New York; and wearing a green hat makes you live longer.

Come to think of it, I’d need a hefty pay raise to afford to live in New York. And just scanning down the names of the counties in Table 3, these counties have the reputation of having high median incomes — much higher than the US average. Or maybe we should substitute ”wearing a green hat” for “making a lot of money” An interesting next step would be to look at the median incomes of these counties with the largest difference between the actual & expected number of centenarians & see if we could identify a couple of counties with low to moderate median incomes and a high difference. But I digress. And since I plan on living in Travis County, Texas for the foreseeable future, I had better continue taking my cod liver oil.

 

Weird Census data stuff

  • Yes, the 3 different tables sum up to 3 different total US centenarians counts. For example, table 1 says that there’s 53,364 centenarians whereas table 2 (the sum of the state counts) says that there’s 54,325 centenarians.  Differences like these happen when you compare different tables of Census data.
  • I used the original population count data. There were revised population numbers for some states & some counties, but to just keep everything simple, I used the original Census 2010 population count data.
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